MCALLEN, RGV – McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, an avid cyclist and fitness enthusiast, has announced that his Mayor’s Wellness Council now has its own website.

It is:

Darling said the website will act as a one-stop shop resource for health and wellness information. He said he hopes the website will help inspire residents to make health and wellness a priority.

“The idea is that there are so many wellness journeys that we all can take, and we want the community to recognize all aspects healthy living, which is why this council’s motto is ‘Live well McAllen.’ We want everyone’s goal to be happy and healthy by living well,” Darling said.

“We also recognize that there are so many great health, active- living and well-being events and activities taking place throughout the Rio Grande Valley. We don’t want to limit people’s opportunities to start on their wellness journey because the event takes place outside of our city limits.”

One active feature of the new website, Darling pointed out, is a calendar listing of health-related activities. Additionally, anyone hosting a wellness activity of any kind, physical activity, health-related information, food, spiritual, financial or other type of event may submit their event for consideration to be posted on the website, regardless if the event is taking place in McAllen or not.

According to a City of McAllen news release, the new website is still a work in progress and will need the entire community to build the calendar by submitting events.

“This will ensure that the website is the premier go-to calendar for health and well-being activities,” Darling added.

Jolee Perez, director of employee wellness for the City of McAllen, said another active feature of the website is that it will serve as a guide for anyone wishing to simply start on their wellness journey.

Perez said resources to help individuals assess their strengths and wellness goals and to find the right activity will be available on the page. Future goals of the website will be to help gauge the true health of the community with benchmark data and other metrics.

“For the City of McAllen, we feel that the label of being an obese community is not entirely accurate,” Perez said.

According to Perez, the data used in most obesity studies is gathered from medical claims processed through insurance companies.

“For the Rio Grande Valley, this typically represents those suffering from chronic illnesses related to obesity. Claims for healthier individuals are typically only a small portion of overall claims because many healthy individuals are rarely seen in doctors’ offices. The studies do not gauge the healthy activities of the entire community or represent the larger population that wouldn’t be represented solely by using claims’ information,” the City of McAllen’s news release states.

The Mayor’s Wellness Council was formed as part of the City of McAllen’s participation in the “It’s Time Texas Community Challenge.” The annual statewide competition encourages communities of all sizes, including schools, businesses, and mayors, to commit to healthy living and ultimately transform the community’s health.

Darling said McAllen participation in the competition was part of the city’s ongoing efforts to change the perception and image of McAllen as an obese and unhealthy community.

For the past two years, the City of McAllen has won the “It’s Time Texas Community Challenge.”

This year’s competition began today and runs through Sunday, March 1, at 5 p.m. Communities earn points when registering as individuals of their city and can also earn points for their school district and place of employment.

Once registered, participants earn points by snapping Healthy Selfies of them working out – various activities can be posted – and eating healthy, such as eating a salad, an apple or drinking water. The City of McAllen will be competing once again in the Large City category, but hopes to also win the overall points competition, as well.

To sign up, visit

In last year’s It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, McAllen was the top point getter in the entire state of Texas. More than 4,195 members of the McAllen community participated and uploaded 7,234 Healthy Selfies, logging 14,851 minutes of activity and losing 487 pounds during the challenge.

“This was a unique opportunity for McAllen residents to get healthy. It was a win all the way around. We increased healthy activity and we have bragging rights now for being one of the healthiest large cities in Texas,” Darling said at the time.

“I am so proud of our community for stepping up once again and showing their commitment to a healthier future.”

More than 21,000 Texans representing over 200 communities participated in 2018.

As part of its Live Well, McAllen! project, the City of McAllen hosts free, low impact outdoor exercise event to help encourage McAllen citizens and residents to move and exercise during the day for better health and peace of mind.

The 30-minute exercise session focuses on stretching and low-impact movement through a simple Pilates work-out that incorporates yoga, Tai Chi or stretching movements.

“We want people to be able to get the health benefits of moving, but still be able to go back to the office if they need to,” Darling said. “It should be a really fun, yet relaxing exercise session to get the blood flowing.”

A Gallup and Sharecare’s Community Rankings for Healthy Eating report issued last year showed McAllen MSA as 4th out of 40 for U.S. cities with healthiest diets.

“After being ranked as one of the fattest MSAs in America, it’s comforting to see that our residents are on the right path to making better choices,” Darling said at the time.